Brown rice is better than white rice, and whole wheat trumps white bread. That’s why many people think the pattern continues with sugar.
But, is brown sugar better than white sugar?
Let’s take a look at the indisputable nutritional facts to determine whether brown sugar should replace white sugar in your shopping basket.
White Sugar vs Brown Sugar
White sugar is the granulated sugar found in nearly every American’s kitchen and used in most recipes. White sugar is basically crystallized sucrose that’s been extracted from the sugarcane plant or sugar beets.
It’s boiled down to eliminate moisture through an extensive purification process in a refinery. White sugar contains no essential nutrients, minerals, or vitamins.
Although brown sugar is lauded as healthy pick, it’s simply white sugar that was mixed with molasses syrup to create its trademark brown coloring.
Light brown sugar is 3.5% molasses and dark brown sugar is around 6.5% molasses. The molasses is removed from the sugarcane plant before being reintroduced once the sugar is refined. Brown sugar is naturally more moist, softer, and richer in flavor.
Which One Is Healthier?
The battle of brown sugar vs white sugar is heated, but very little separates the two nutritionally.
According to the USDA, one teaspoon of packed brown sugar supplies 17 calories and one teaspoon of refined white sugar has 16 calories. They’re pretty equal in the amount of energy being consumed into the body. If you’re watching your waistline by cutting calories, picking brown sugar over white won’t make much difference.
That being said, brown sugar is technically healthier because it provides nutrients not found in white sugar. The molasses is an okay source for potassium.
Brown sugar also gives trace amounts of calcium, vitamin B, magnesium, iron, and niacin. These nutrients are only found in fractional amounts though, so brown sugar certainly won’t help meet your daily nutritional needs.
Limiting Your Sugar Intake
In reality, neither of these sugars are beneficial to your health. White and brown sugar should both be limited within your diet to lower your risk for several chronic diseases.
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that women should only consume around six teaspoons of sugar and men should only digest about nine teaspoons of sugar daily.
Too much sugar, regardless of its color, is bad for your health. Sugar may satisfy your sweet tooth, but it can cause insulin resistance and lead towards diabetes.
In fact, children consuming one serving of a sugar-sweetened beverage daily have a 60% higher risk for obesity. Sugar spells disaster by raising cholesterol, effecting hormones, increasing likelihood of heart disease, feeding candida, and contributing to cancer growth.
Sugar causes a release of dopamine in the brain, which makes it extremely addictive and difficult to cut out of your diet. Quitting sugar cold turkey usually doesn’t work.
You should start by throwing away sugary junk foods and draining sugar-filled sodas, then reducing the simple carbohydrates you’re dependent on. Reading nutritional labels is key because there are several sneaky sugar sources hidden in everyday foods.
Alternatives to Refined Sugars
Limiting added sugars doesn’t necessarily mean giving up the sweetened side of life. There are more natural alternatives that are healthier than both white and brown sugar. For instance, syrup harvested from maple trees has lower fructose levels and contains beneficial antioxidants.
Raw, organic honey is another ideal fat-free natural sweetener that has been shown to boost energy and the immune system.
Agave nectar is an increasingly popular sugar alternative. It consists of nearly 90% fructose, but it’s intense sweetness means you’ll use less.
Stevia is a natural sugar substitute with no calories that won’t cause a dramatic spike in blood sugar levels. Coconut palm sugar, xylitol, whey low, date sugar, and molasses are other options you can consider too.
While brown sugar may have an edge over its competitor in nutrients, neither are the healthiest sweet foods available. Picking from other raw alternatives that aren’t refined will help you steer clear of the sugar crash and various other medical dangers.
To stay healthy, you should avoid white and brown sugar in your diet. Indulging occasionally is fine, but leave the processed sugar to special dessert treats.